Social return explained

In principal, it is possible to implement social return in all purchasing procedures, whether they be above or below the European public procurement threshold. In the absence of a national policy, individual organisations are free to interpret social return policy in their own way. The State implements social return in its procurement policy for public procurements in the categories of "works" and "services" worth in excess of €250,000 with a minimum contract period of six months.

Social return target groups

Individuals from the following groups are entitled to benefit

  • Work and Social Assistance Act (WWB): students in the vocational training track (BOL) and the apprenticeship training track (BBL), Association of Social Enterprises (VSO) and/or vocational colleges;
  • Unemployment benefit (WW), unemployed for more than 12 months and/or aged 50 or above;
  • Disability benefits (WIA), Return to Work (Partially Disabled Persons) (WGA), Invalidity Insurance (Self-Employed Persons) Act (WAZ);
  • Work and Employment Support (Young Disabled Persons) Act (WAJONG);
  • Older and Partially Disabled Former Self-Employed Persons Income Scheme Act (IOAZ)/Older and Partially Disabled Unemployed Workers Income Scheme Act (IOAW);
  • Sheltered Employment Act (WSW) - indicated.

Jobseekers who are not entitled to benefit

People who are at a great disadvantage within the labour market. These are individuals who have been unemployed for a long period of time (in excess of 12 months), who are aged 50 years or above, and/or who are unable to independently find work without reintegration support or some other form of supervision.

Early school-leavers and young people

Early school-leavers and young people with inadequate qualifications.

The employment of disadvantaged groups should, according to legal frameworks, be related to the service or the work that is being contracted out. These people should, therefore, actually be employed in the implementation of the contracted service or works, and not in other areas of the organisation's operations. For the recruitment and selection of candidates, contractors will usually turn to the local authorities, the Dutch Institute for Employee Benefits Schemes (UWV), WSW companies (sheltered workplaces) and/or reintegration agencies.

Suitable public procurements

In principal, it is possible to implement social return in all purchasing procedures, both above and below the European public procurement threshold, with a proportional labour component. In general, services and works lend themselves better to social return than do deliveries, due to the latter's low labour component. Social return is widely implemented, for example, in the areas of health care (Social Support Act; WMO), landscaping, cleaning and construction. As a procurer, it is your responsibility to determine whether the level of social return applied in a given public procurement is proportionate and applicable. This can be done by consulting the market and, in some cases, obtaining information from the UWV.

Unsuitable public procurements

In certain situations it is neither possible nor desirable to implement social return.

The limited grounds for exclusion are:

  • If, as a result of social return, existing jobs would be supplanted.
  • If, due to the nature of the work, no suitable offer is available in the regional labour market (subject to assessment by the local authority/UWV).
  • If, as a result of the local and regional characteristics of the labour market it is not possible to match supply and demand (subject to assessment by the local authority/UWV).
  • If the implementation of social return entails disproportionate effort or expense.

Should the implementation of social return be neither applicable nor feasible, based on one of the grounds for exclusion, then the decision can be taken (in consultation with the principal/director) not to implement social return. 

Proceed to Getting started with social return